A packed branch meeting of over 160 members gathered today to take the final decision about whether to go ahead with the local industrial action. The votes from the meeting have now been tallied, and a clear majority voted in favour of proceeding. 71% voted for the action, 21% were against, and 8% abstained.
What does this mean?
This means that there will be a strike at Queen Mary on the following days:
Once the strike action has concluded, action short of a strike in the form of a marking and assessment boycott will commence from 19th May.
Why is this happening?
This action is being taken because management has refused to provide a commitment not to deduct 100% of pay for action short of a strike in the USS and Four Fights disputes. If management provides this commitment, which will cost them nothing, the dispute will end immediately and the action will be called off. The disruption is entirely of their choosing
Queen Mary UCU recently learned that senior management has told Heads of School they will implement 100% pay docking during the forthcoming marking boycott, which suggests they want to continue with their hardline approach.
But the question for senior management is now: are they so determined to dock your pay that they would prefer to see 10 days of strike action right in the middle of the examination period?
If they do not withdraw their threat, staff and students will rightly conclude that senior management cannot have the best interests of the university in mind.
How should I observe the strike and marking boycott?
QMUCU has prepared guidance on observing the strikes and the marking boycott which has been posted to our website. This guidance will be updated as the situation develops and the marking boycott approaches.
If you are scheduled to mark, moderate, set, or help administer assessments on any of the strike days, you should not work at all on those days. No one, whether marking or not, should participate in the collective administrative life of the university. You should not attend, for example, departmental meetings or research events at the university, even remotely. You should not teach on these days. If you would not have been doing any of the above activities, contact a local rep or the branch for further advice on how best to participate in the strike.
Because exam term is a stressful period for students and campus is generally much quieter at this time anyway, in-person pickets will not operate on strike days in May. Instead, a series of online events will be held to help organise the action. The following events are planned for the first two days, with further details and speakers to be confirmed shortly:
Thursday 5th May, 11am – What is a marking boycott?
This online event will discuss what a marking boycott entails and discuss some recent successful examples. The session will focus on practical guidance and planning.
Friday 6th May, [4.15pm]: UCU’s national democratic structures
At this online event, our two speakers, Rachel Cohen (City) and Simon Pek (U Victoria), will discuss the democratic structures of your union, explaining what they are and how they operate. They will also discuss possible reforms.
In addition to these branch events, local events will be held in departments to help build the action. Look out for a communication from reps in your area.
What should I tell my students?
Student support for the action will be crucial. They need to hear from supportive staff about why the action is happening, how it will impact them, and why they should support it. The key messages for students are:
- The industrial action is only happening because of avoidable choices made by management.
- This is a marking boycott, not a learning boycott. On non-strike days, staff will be able to offer informal feedback and support with applications for jobs and further study.
- Management attempts to mitigate the action (by, for example, suspending regulations or finding other staff to mark their work) risk devaluing their degree.
Template communication materials for students emphasising these messages are available through our website. These will be updated and supplemented regularly.
This is a crucial time in the local and national disputes. Look out for further information and meeting invitations soon!